ER4

Robotic Systems
Technology Branch

The Robotic Systems Technology Branch is responsible for the research, engineering, development, integration, and application of robotic hardware and software technologies for specific flight and ground robotic system applications in support of human spaceflight. The vision is to have humans and robots working side-by-side in the pursuit of exploration. Advanced robotic systems technology efforts include both remotely controlled and autonomous robots for space and terrestrial application, as well as intelligent robotics for high value functionality. Technology focal areas within the Branch include:

● Autonomy        ● Dexterous Manipulation
● Human-Robot Interaction        ● Embedded Control Systems
● Simulation        ● Tele-presence
● Power Dense Actuation        ● Sensing

Spidernaut Centaur Rover Centaur Rover with Bucket Centaur Rover with Flag Exoskeleton Team

At A Glance

      

Our Expertise

●  The Robotic Systems Technology Branch is responsible for the research, engineering, development, integration, and application of robotic hardware and software technologies for specific flight and ground robotic system applications in support of human spaceflight. The vision is to have humans and robots working side-by-side in the pursuit of exploration. Advanced robotic systems technology efforts include both remotely controlled and autonomous robots for space and terrestrial application, as well as intelligent robotics for high value functionality.
●  ER4 Robotic engineers focus on advanced development of sensing, perception, planning, dexterity, mobility, controls, telepresence, fault tolerance, and intelligent robotics.

Our Role in Flight Projects

●  Our goal is to design and build capabilities that enhance performance and productivity in pursuit of exploration both for manned and unmanned missions.
●  Autonomous EVA Robotic camera (AERcam), Robonaut2, Miniaturized Exercise Device 2 (MED2).

What We Need

●  Level 1 & 2 requirements and a customer eager to achieve success.

What Worries Us

●  ER4 is adaptable and creative in its pursuit of technology development. What may surface as a perceived roadblock is embraced as a challenge and met with enthusiasm.

When We Engage

●  ER4 can be engaged at any point in the design, development and operation of robotic mechanisms and intelligent robotic systems; whether developing a new flight product from requirements based concept, or problem solving a solution on an existing system.
●  ER4 has expertise in design and manufacturing as well as operation and maintenance of complex robotic assets.

Points of Contact

POC Role
Ron Diftler X30931 Branch Chief
Darby Magruder x37069 Deputy Branch Chief
Scott Askew x38957 Robotics Technical Discipline Lead
Josh Mehling x36645 Robotics Controls Technical Discipline Lead
TBD Autonomy Technical Discipline Lead


Highlights



     Valkyrie Robot     

Humanoid Robots

Advanced dexterous robotic technology efforts focus on sensing, perception, planning, dexterity, mobility, control, telepresence, fault tolerance, and intelligent robotics. Included in these efforts is the design and development of Robonaut, an internationally recognized anthropomorphic, highly dexterous robot designed to help humans work and explore in space. A recent development effort has resulted in a highly dexterous walking robot named Valkyrie. Valkyrie development is the result of a DARPA Robotics Challenge to create a next generation bipedal robot designed to operate in a gravity environment.



    

Robotic Rovers

The Branch also develops mobility systems for planetary surface exploration. Chariot was the first in a series of planetary rover prototypes, followed by Centaur-2, an unmanned autonomous rover. The Chariot series has evolved into the Multi-mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) with the addition of a pressurized cabin for up to four astronauts. Additionally, a common robotic control standard is being developed for the control of multiple, divers robotic agents over time delay. The Branch maintains extensive relationships with other NASA centers, academia, and private sector robotics research efforts. In support of these functions, the Branch manages and operates multiple engineering development and evaluation laboratories consisting of: Dexterous Robotics Laboratory, Rover Development Laboratory, and Wearable Robotics Laboratory.

The Modular Robotic Vehicle incorporates technology first developed for use on the MMSEV. MRV is a fully drive-by-wire vehicle where throttle, steering and brake linkages between driver and vehicle are replaced with digital signals commanding electric motors. The MRV platform is a safe drive-by-wire, fail operational vehicle containing technologies crucial to future crewed space rovers and future automotive applications. The drive-by-wire nature of the vehicle allows engineers to add more sensing and additional safety features for use by drivers and driverless cars. NASA’s Space technology for safety in the skies has been brought down to Earth.

The Resource Prospector (RP) Rover is a rugged terrain mobility base intended to transport a chemistry plant about the Moon’s south pole in search of oxygen, water, silicon, and light metals possibly contained in the lunar regolith. RP would characterize the constituents and distribution of water and other volatiles at the poles of the moon. RP15 is a terrestrial prototype intended to help guide and inform the design of the final flight unit.

     Centaur 2 Rover
MMSEV Rover
MRV Rover


     Roboglove
Exoskeleton
    

Exoskeletons

A spin-off of the Robonaut hand and limb technology, exoskeleton devices have many useful benefits for both space and terrestrial applications. In-space, exoskeletons can be used as a force resistive device to enable exercise in a weightless environment or enhancing an astronaut's grip in a space suit glove. Here on earth, exoskeletons serve multiple purposes:

● Grasping assist
● Prevent fatigue and repetitive stress injuries
● Rehabilitation
● Strength augmentation
● Walking assist for the disabled